Thursday, July 03, 2003


boynton was in seventh heaven (melways map xx H7) last night when she suddenly stumbled upon this link to her favourite book- a first edition of the Melway Street directory (via virulent memes). This is said without irony- as much as all trace elements can ever be removed. Boynton is not much of a driver, but loves to read, scan, gaze for hours at the beautiful bird's eye view of streets and tram lines, post offices and public telephones. Parks. Bicycle tracks. Alternate routes for imaginary journeys. Short-cuts for alternate destinations, parallel paths.
She can possibly plan neurotically, retrace steps, check bus routes, estimate distances with a piece of string. There is another appeal of the early editions, especially this rare first edition. A sense of memory mapping. The map catches us in time. On this page for example, at this time, my grandparents were still living, this is the way we would get there. Extended families, neighbours, characters, old timers, lost communities. That brief illusion that they are still there, old lives, somewhere in the map. Perhaps such charts function as memory palaces.(via a comment here)
And the record of lost landmarks of the highway, the drive-in theatres that were privileged in 1966 with a symbol, a red triangle, as if a drive-in was a serious public amenity, an emergency centre. None survived apart from Coburg. And the strangeness of seeing the inner north uncut by freeway, that prehistory when the winding river was the only divider between suburbs. And the great white spaces at the edges of suburbs yet to sprawl into today's fringe. Emptiness coveted by speculators, still enjoyed by cows and orchards and dog boarding kennels (the latter often the signpost of the sonic frontier)
But it isn't merely nostalgia or archival value. Boynton can meditate over the current edition just as easily. She has about four in her collection - "about" because one was chewed by douglas and is only half readable. One was found dumped on a street with cover and pages missing. One is a deluxe hard cover large print. And one was a recent op shop find - a second edition. But this on line version will fill the need for virtual melways-gazing, a fish bowl, a fire place, a book of kells.

Comments: melways

Our parents were determined we became organised little demons so they always gave us street directories for birthdays. And footies and cricket sets.
Posted by Pithy at July 3, 2003 03:32 PM

Ah but U B a UBD man yourself I imagine, Pithy?
A very wise present to give a child. I received my first on my 18th birthday to go with the car licence! That was the one douglas chewed.
Posted by boynton at July 3, 2003 03:40 PM

What a beautiful post, Boynton.

I, like you, am a map fancier (although, ironically, I'm not very good at reading them. Perhaps I spend too much time admiring the aesthetics of all those wiggling lines and not enough concentrating on what they actually mean...)
Posted by mcb at July 3, 2003 04:33 PM

Yes it's the aesthetics indeed mcb, but that is the only way to read a map in my book - isn't it!
Posted by boynton at July 3, 2003 04:41 PM

I'm also a map geek, but I much prefer the dead-tree versions..
Posted by Scott Wickstein at July 4, 2003 01:35 AM

Fascinating as the first edition Melway is (especially for checking out where all those long-gone Melbourne landmarks used to be), the Dallas Fort-Worth road map remains my favourite. I like the way it reflects the collective unconscious of the not so biggest state in the Union.
Posted by Gummo Trotsky at July 5, 2003 03:50 PM

No link to that great unconscious chart, Gummo?
Also: do you know of any Melburnians, apart from advertising merchants' faux RP, who ever say "melway" without the colloquial,universal "S"?
Posted by boynton at July 5, 2003 08:37 PM

Sorry - that was a big omission, wasn't it. Anyway, here's a map of Dallas from Yahoo. The collective unconscious manifests itself around Dallas in the centre of the map, extending westward past Irving, Grande Praire and North Richland Hills. Or maybe it's just in my mind.
Posted by Gummo Trotsky at July 5, 2003 08:52 PM

Oh damn. The link got stripped. It's at this big URL:,+TX&country=us&cs=4&name=&desc=&poititle=&poi=&uz=75202&ds=n&BFKey=&BFCat=&BFClient=&mag=6&newmag=5
Posted by Gummo Trotsky at July 5, 2003 08:56 PM

or perhaps this?
This url is even bigger

Possibly no greater meaning here than chance and chart-fancy. Just happened upon it at Coudal "for map freaks what could be nicer"
Posted by boynton at July 6, 2003 07:01 PM

Getting back to the Melway - I haven't found seventh heaven yet, but it's good to see that Nirvana is still where it always has been - Map 68 K3. And existential crises seem to have been going on for some time at Map 62 A9.
Posted by Gummo Trotsky at July 7, 2003 05:54 PM

You'd think that there'd be a roundabout somewhere near nirvana?
And interesting re exi-crisis. I happened to be driving once with some actors, one of whom had just played the Great Dane himself. We passed
73 E2
"You'll go MAD in this street!!!" my friend observed.

I'm sure this virtual car-rally game has legs, Gummo!
Posted by boynton at July 7, 2003 06:18 PM

"I'm sure this virtual car-rally game has legs ..."

I think we may be in 30 C2 on that.
Posted by Gummo Trotsky at July 7, 2003 07:21 PM

7 B6

(presuming you didn't mean (H Swain) reserve of course)
Posted by boynton at July 7, 2003 07:28 PM

and btw. seem to have located 7th heaven.
It's somewhere within 60 G5, but the view is hazy as you might expect. Runs off Outlook
(according to my latest edition this is the 7th listing of such)
Posted by boynton at July 8, 2003 12:29 PM

Some people get totally adicted to owning Melways - or street directories generally. I have 35 Melways (23 different editions and various double-ups) and over 200 other Australian street directories. This has been known to present problems - like where to put them and to whom you would actually admit owning them... but adictions are not easily kicked.
Posted by Phlip at September 10, 2003 04:43 PM

You inspire me Philip.
Not to kick mine at any rate.
35 is a benchmark - and I have not added to my collection for a while.
I have the same problem of storage with other books I collect (50's and 60's stuff - not to mention Girl's Annuals) - but would never think of shedding any melways - even the shredded ones.
I do have a few directories from other States - and other countries - and can even gaze at these for long stretches.
I wonder if you have edition number one?
And which is the best edition in your opinion (apart from the current one of course?)
Posted by boynton at September 10, 2003 06:15 PM

Hey Boynton, mmmm, unfortunately no edition 1. I reckon my grandma had one when it was new, and I was always hoping to inherit it, then she went and died while I was interstate and no-one remembered me. Bet it was thrown out. I have only seen one "in the flesh", so it is kind of nice to have it on-line now. Favourite? Dunno - I liked edition 7 very much - 35% increase in maps (from 130 to 175) including the peninsula & "now with ladies bowling clubs" !!! What overseas directories do you have? I have one of London in the 50's and one of Singapore.
Posted by Phlip at September 11, 2003 08:45 AM

Must look out for that edition 7 now - top of the list.
I don't have anything too exotic. I have the London A-Z of course, and the large AA guide to the UK (which I love), a good hardback European road atlas - with lots of Euro city maps within, and a couple of the US directories - no individual city ones - alas.
London in the fifties would be fantastic.
As I tried to suggest above - they do somehow capture the era.
Posted by boynton at September 11, 2003 11:37 AM

Is the London A-Z a directory or a fold-out map? I have an A-Z fold out map. The directory is a Bacon's Atlas of London, actually 1968 when I look again - it is fabulous. The oldest Melbourne directories I have are Morgans - the cinema advertising poeple - from late 30's I think, no date to confirm.

Been having a bit of a look on your web site - its v interesting, well done!
Posted by Phlip at September 11, 2003 01:42 PM

Thank you kindly.
The London A-Z is the directory. Makes you realise just how good the Melways is - although perhaps like our relative currency - I'm dazzled by the Monopoly-colours and there is style in basic monochrome!
I have a Morgans too - but only from the 60's.
I like the Morgans-yellow, but otherwise the Melways beats 'em all hands down. (eyes up)
Posted by boynton at September 11, 2003 02:56 PM

Asthetics aside, if someone is offering straight swaps of dull-looking stirling for dazzling-looking aussies, its a good deal!
Posted by Phlip at September 12, 2003 02:19 PM

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